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Samsung Could Bring a Key Feature Back to its Smartwatch

Samsung has patented a new smartwatch with some features we haven't seen in a wearable.

Android Authority/Samsung

Android Authority/Samsung

The patent, which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently published, describes a smartwatch that comes with a built-in camera and a wristband that includes a display. Samsung doesn't say in the patent what kind of specs the smartwatch would offer, but suggests a camera could be useful for people who want to quickly snap a photo -- or selfie -- and don't want to take out their smartphones to do it.

According to SamMobile and Android Authority, which earlier reported on the patent, the display would be used like the edge panel in the Galaxy S8, providing you access to contacts, applications, and other items that you deem important.

Samsung has been offering smartwatches for years, but the company, like all others in the market, has delivered standard devices with a screen and wristband with no additional functionality. However, several reports have suggested that vendors are eyeing ways to expand smartwatch features and could try to bundle components into the wristband and other areas to add new capabilities.

MORE: Best Smartwatches - Top Picks for Android and iOS

Apple, for instance, has patented a few smartwatch technologies that would make the wristband far more useful. In one patent, Apple describes ways for users to swap different links on the wristband that would come with different features. Those features could include a display or a camera.

While details are slim on Samsung's invention, the patent suggests that the camera built into the smartwatch could come with optical zoom. The lens, in other words, would stick out from the smartwatch to capture photos.

That said, Samsung, like other prominent technology companies, files for patents all the time. And although it might be considering the technology, it's possible the patent will never come to fruition.

Don Reisinger is a communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter who has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine and The New York Times, as well as Tom's Guide.